I have begun work on my next sermon and have been focused on the text from John's Gospel where Jesus tells his disciples, "whatever you ask for in my name will be granted." I asked our choir director to repeat an anthem we did just before Easter on the Sunday I will be preaching. It's a particularly beautiful piece, and the choir loved it. More importantly it talks of drinking "deeply of the endless water of life." I think that's how one goes about praying in Jesus' name--by drinking deeply of the living water Christ offers. I don't think praying in Jesus' name means simply tacking on "in Jesus' name" at the end of a prayer like some magical incantation, though there's certainly nothing wrong with adding that phrase to a prayer. But I think what's more important is drinking deeply of Christ and in so doing learning how to pray as He did. It's that simple, and that difficult.
As I was pondering this topic and how best to speak to our congregation (which this time will include one of my sons and his wife!), I received a phone call advising me that I'd won first place in poetry and non-fiction in this year's local literary contest. A second call told me as a result of winning the poetry prize, I would be named poet laureate for the next year. I am still in shock over that! As I concluded my seminary education and was pondering what might come next, I attended a faith in writing course taught by Ann Weems, who is a wonderful poet. I had not written poetry before that conference, but have been doing so since then. God seems to keep turning me back to writing as a calling, and I remember well Ann insisting that faith in writing is a ministry. So perhaps this next year will allow me to share what I have learned of drinking deeply of the living water of Christ through my poetry. A scary blessing, but then most blessings are.
Grace and Peace,